The drama being played out on the world stage right now is alarming at best, catastrophic at worst…. To see America so badly divided and knowing the biblical wisdom that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand is painful to watch. In Luke 11:17 we read:
“He (Jesus) knew their thoughts, so he said, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A family splintered by feuding will fall apart.”
At a time when so much world security is at stake, America needs to be displaying a united front and not allowing the enemy to take advantage of the chinks in her armour or widening cracks in her political arena. Instead, she continues to air her grievances whilst Russia, North Korea, Islamic extremism and the world at large looks on. God help America at this time – the world needs you! God has need of you! I have the utmost love, honour and respect for you!
As I relaxed around the pool in Mexico, looking out to the beach and sea, I began to think that this is how it must have been when terror struck Tunisia’s holiday shores so tragically, as well as other holiday destinations we naturally expect to be haven’s of beauty and tranquility. My thoughts were interrupted as my Mum approached with news of the horrendous terror attack in Barcelona! Safety shattered once more! How our hearts ache at the evil and tragedy continually being unleashed around us!
As children of God, what should our response be in the face of pure evil, rising tension, uncertainty and the eye of the storm?
There is a saying I have used often whilst here to describe Mexico, “beautiful one day, perfect the next”. However, one parallel I have recognised between Mexico and life is that when a storm comes in, it comes in fast – this reality is often so true for us and our world! Circumstances can change in an instant! In all honesty, a truer reflection for life and our world would be, “beautiful one day, catastrophic the next…”, but I have discovered a beauty in the storm that I want to share with you! You may be in the midst of a storm right now or for you life may be paradise on earth today, but be prepared, storms still stir in paradise!
The sun was shining, the skies were blue, our children were swimming happily in the pool whilst some of our adult party watched on. Our men and older boys were playing Volley Ball in the sand and our Mama had just settled in on her Cabana on the beach. Out to sea I spotted a black cloud on the horizon when seemingly, without warning, a wind sped up furiously, the sunshades went flying over at force into the pool narrowly missing children and the palm branches once peaceful and majestic now thrashed about ferociously. In an instant everything changed and the place was evacuated with our Mama being rescued by her son’s from the beach! There was power in the storm to change everything but also incomprehensible beauty!
As quickly as the storm came, the storm passed – the sun came out again and the palm trees offered their majestic shade once more. The children resumed playing and Mama returned to her Cabana on the beach – everything seemed the same, only everything had changed! The seaweed that would build up on the beach only to be cleared away by the Azul Beach Resort staff was washed away and the sand had a purity and whiteness I had not seen before. The sea gave up beautiful colours of aqua, blue and green – the scene everywhere was one of clarity, vibrant colour, purity and beauty!
The storms we face in life move in quickly and we think they will never pass, but they do. It looks as though we will not make it through, but we will. The eyesores in our character are washed away in the wake of the storm and fresh beauty, clarity, colour and vibrancy emerge – yes there is beauty in the storm for us all to experience, when we, in awe, surrender our lives to the working of God’s majestic hand and plan for our lives.
I love a quote from Disney’s Epcot that I have never forgotten:
“The storm may seem violent and destructive to us, but to nature, it’s a new beginning in the cycle of life!”
Sometimes things do not pan out the way we expect them to. Disappointment, frustration, offence and negativity can take root … don’t let them! Root them out – choose courage, perseverance, forgiveness and positivity… faith will lead you forward, fear will pull you back on your stormy journey called living! The sunshine is only ever a rain cloud away! Sometimes we just have to ride out the storm with praise, wait for the rain to pass and observe the saving power of God in the process!
“Sing to the Lord; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.” Psalm 96:2
On our first morning in our Mexican paradise we met with our Tour Operator to gather information for our holiday. We were advised that just a pleasant one hour walk away along the beach to the right of us was a picturesque town…. with shops, cafe’s, bars; so one afternoon, 7 out of our family of 18 decided to check it out. We set of at 4 pm enjoying the sun, sea and a gentle breeze – idyllic! Over an hour passed and still no sign of any turn off for this pretty, picturesque town. Instead the sand before us became rocks in our path with the sea crashing threateningly against them and the barrier wall. Slightly shaken but undeterred we decided we had come too far to turn back so pressed on through. It wasn’t long after clambering and balancing over rocks in our flip-flops with the force of the sea now crashing against us, that we were wading through seawater trying to avoid sewage! Often the filth and negativity of this world will swirl around us, but it will not touch us unless we let it!
Sharon, my sister-in-law and I had dressed to shop, not dressed for this! Even my adventurous fourteen year old son asked why we were still even doing this. I was reminded of the ten spies in the Bible sent out to check out the promised land for the children/family of Israel. Eight of those spies saw giants and impossibilities, and brought back a negative report, but only 2 spies saw potential, character beyond the challenge and that every impossibility or impassable place would be made possible and passable if they only believed! I reminded my son, Joshua, “winning is an attitude”!
As we passed beyond the rocks with the sea crashing against us, and the sinking sand where we almost lost our legs and flip-flops, we came to a white sandy stretch of beach with hotels again where we stopped for refreshment and direction! Here we were told the shocking and discouraging news that we still had quite a distance to go. However, when we saw and passed through a nudist resort we would reach our destination. That would be the sign we had arrived at our beautiful town with the reward of shopping (providing any shops allowed drowned rats in)!
Two and a half hours after we set out on our so-called one hour leisurely walk later, my sister-in-law, Sharon, let out an elated scream, “we’re almost there, I can see the nudist beach ahead!” By the time we made it to town she may have been a pair of flip flops down and shopping bare foot but she was undeterred! You would have thought we had just struck gold for all the joy and celebration that nudist beach brought to us. Then it was a case of “heads down kids and walk on”! I did laugh as my son asked me why it was legal for such places to exist in public areas and then went on to say “I didn’t see anything though Mama”. Smiling, I responded “Mummy was praying that God would put a divine shield over your eyes!” At that point my gorgeous niece, Summer, piped up “well he didn’t put a shield over mine”! Take time to enjoy the laughs on the journey of life! We serve a fun-loving God – He created sense of humour and it is part of our great Creator’s character – make sure it is a part of yours and mine! A good sense of humour will bring you through with a smile and out on top every time! I believe it is one of the most attractive attributes we can bring to the world and share with those around us! It beats being stuffy and legalistic that’s for sure!
It was at this point on our stormy journey that God by His Holy Spirit spoke to my heart:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)
God’s ways and thoughts are so much higher and better than ours and in this day and age, more than ever, we need His mindset for our lives, every storm we face, the circumstances we find ourselves in and world events.
The Bible clearly tells us that sin would escalate on the earth, there would be an increase in natural disasters, that men’s hearts would fail them for fear and terror in the last days. Jesus told us to rejoice as we see these things for it means His return is imminent! It means we have nearly made it! Like the sign of our nudist beach that we could have frowned upon, it means we are almost there! Take heart! Take courage! Yes, celebrate and rejoice! As children of God we live where the party never ends! That has become one of our family’s life mottos and it has held true for us through all the storms of life! Why then do we allow ourselves as God’s children to panic, feel afraid, let negativity set in? Today God wants us to look at things differently. From His perspective! From the mindset and viewpoint of the minority, just like the two positive spies and not get swept along with the negative majority! Jesus said when you see all these things happening “Rejoice, the time is near – I am at the door and my return and victory is here”! Yes rejoice, be glad, be thankful, be encouraged and give out courage and hope to others; not doom, gloom, panic, fear and dread!
As we approached the nudist beach on our long, arduous journey with plenty of laughs and character building on the way, we didn’t turn away in disgust but walked right on through rejoicing and celebrating all the way! When sin abounds, grace is greater and much more abounds the Bible tells us! Let’s be grace filled, faith filled and joy filled in this day and age, facing every storm with triumph!
So back to the beginning… what should our response be as children of God as we see terror attacks increasing, North Korea raising its threat levels, President Trump and America divided? Do we panic and add to the drama? No way! Yes, we pray but we also live out our lives from the perspective of peace, joy and where the party never ends! We rejoice for God is with us! We shine as beacons of light in the darkness around us and we see the beauty in the storm, sharing that beauty with the world! We do not add to the bad news but we are the good news to the world that protection, provision and a power-packed life are God’s gift to us, through Jesus!
“How beautiful on the mountains (the rugged, difficult, painful terrain) are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!” Isaiah 52:7“…Messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!” Isaiah 40:9
By the way, after the storm passed in Mexico, our holiday in paradise carried on even more beautiful and perfect than ever! A reminder of God’s promise to us that our present sufferings are nothing to be compared with the glory that will be revealed!
“REJOICE FOR I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE!”